‘Mirror of Fate’ whips up the nostalgia on the 3DS

Published 10:02 am Friday, March 8, 2013

“Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate”

4.5 out of 5 stars

For 3DS

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•Style: Action platformer

•Rating: M for Mature

•“Mirror” trades intricate puzzles for somewhat difficult enemies.

•Fetch quests can seem tedious, but cinematics make up for it.

•Lots of old-school references will please “Castlevania” fans.

For a rebooted series, the latest Castlevania sure uses a lot of throwback concepts.

“Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate” is the latest in a long line of 2D sidescrolling platformers, and though diehard Castlevania fans may not approve of its simplistic design, it’s much better than a lot of recent handheld games.

The game takes place some years after “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow,” and deals with the fallout of Gabriel Belmont’s dark quest to defeat the Lords of Shadow. His lineage must now find a way to stop the evil-seeming Dracula from enveloping the world in darkness.

Players will start out with Simon Belmont, Gabriel’s grandson, whose moveset is similar to Gabriel’s from the first game. Gamers will switch between Simon, his father Trevor, the mysterious Alucard and a fourth mystery character in navigating Dracula’s castle and attempting to put an end to the villain.

That means plenty of running, jumping, the occasional puzzle and a few difficult bosses. This game is a lot more player-friendly, unlike previous Castlevanias, but not so easy to lose a gamer’s interest. Puzzle elements have been scaled back in favor of difficult enemies, which will both delight and frustrate many people. Developer Mercury Steam is careful to continue the cinematic, Latin-gothic feel of the first game, and there are plenty of interesting moments to break the tedium of traveling through levels.

And let’s be honest: If you want to make sure you’re properly leveled, the game will seem tedious at times. In one glaring episode, Simon must uncover a new weapon in order to access certain parts of about 10 different maps to get extras and goodies he’ll need for the journey. That means a bit of backtracking, though if you progress far enough you’ll have to retread several beginning areas anyway, and areas once explored won’t take as long to go through the next time.

In all, the game works well, though the 3DS can make framerates drop a bit, especially with 3D on. That doesn’t take much away from the game, and fans of the current Castlevania plot will relish the opportunity to play through “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate,” especially to see how it will tie into “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2.”